After the cruise returned to nowhere early, Singapore says the passenger doesn't have Covid

Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas cruise ship docked at the Marina Bay Cruise Center in Singapore on December 9, 2020.

Rosanna Lockwood | CNBC

SINGAPORE – The Singaporean passenger who tested positive for Covid-19 on board a cruise ship subsequently tested negative for the disease, according to the Singapore Ministry of Health.

The passenger, an 83-year-old man, was on board Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas, which embarked on a roundtrip to the city-state with no port in between on December 7th. The ship was forced to return on Wednesday, a day ahead of schedule, after the passenger underwent a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on the cruise ship that was positive for Covid-19.

PCR tests have been widely used to detect cases because they are accurate in their diagnosis, but it takes hours for results to return.

"His original sample has since been retested at the National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL) and found negative for (Covid-19) infection. A second fresh sample tested by NPHL also came back negative," said the Department of Health Health said Wednesday evening, adding that another test would be done the next day to confirm his Covid-19 status.

On Thursday afternoon, the Ministry of Health announced that the passenger did not have Covid-19.

"The sample taken from the individual this morning was negative for the virus. This follows two Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests performed yesterday by NPHL, one on retesting its original sample and the other on a fresh sample yesterday, which was also negative, "said the Ministry of Health in its daily preliminary update of Covid-19 cases in the city-state.

"We have lifted the quarantine orders of his close contacts, which had previously been quarantined as a precaution during the ongoing investigations," added the Ministry of Health in its statement.

The passenger was taken to the National Infectious Disease Center at 2:30 p.m. Singapore time on Wednesday according to the Singapore Tourism Board.

The tourism authority added that all 1,680 passengers and 1,148 crew members on board had tested negative for the virus prior to the ship's departure. Passengers and crew members who came into close contact with the person concerned were isolated while other passengers were subjected to mandatory tests before they were allowed to exit the Marina Bay Cruise Center, where the ship is docked.

In a separate statement, Royal Caribbean said that the entire crew will be subjected to PCR testing on Thursday while the ship is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.

A cruise with 4 nights that should start on Thursday has been canceled, said the cruise operator.

The coronavirus pandemic has hit the world Travel and tourism sectors this year, including the cruise industry.

Singapore's "Cruise to Nowhere" program is an attempt to increase demand for travel amid the pandemic. In order to participate, cruise lines must obtain a mandatory safety certification and undergo an audit before they can begin sailing.

Only two operators, Royal Caribbean and Genting Cruise Lines, sail from Singapore under this program.

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